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What can people expect in the future?

Where are the citywide WiFi connections that all of us have heard so much about?

I wonder what it would be like to have citywide WiFi throughout San Francisco almost every time I head into the City.  After reading an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, I learned I am not the only person who is still actively thinking about WiFi initiatives.

Remember how the past two years featured lots of talk surrounding municipal WiFi deployments in big cities throughout the country?  Have you noticed how much of that talk has died down over the past six or so months?  The minimal chatter has rightfully left many of you wondering what the future holds for WiFi, so here is a brief insight into the future.

During the MunWireless 2007 conference in the San Francisco Bay Area, wireless big wigs and municipal officials came together to discuss the future of municipal WiFi.

A major setback took place when EarthLink cut half its staff, effectively killing WiFi initiatives in San Francisco and Houston.  Plans for WiFi in Chicago, St. Louis and Silicon Valley also are on indefinite hold for the immediate future.

What can be done?

Even though ad-supported free Internet sounds like a promising business model to offer Internet to every user, companies are now realizing they need cities and townships to act as anchors to help keep a constant revenue stream open.  Some cities want outright control of the project, while other cities are requesting federal grants to help kick start the WiFi infrastructure.

Another interesting tidbit is that the WiFi networks are no longer being promoted as a service to allow every citizen to have an affordable access point to the Internet.  Instead, the connections are being promoted as a service to city workers and for the public good - i.e. public safety, surveillance cameras and meter reading.  For example, a city in San Joaquin County installed 71 WiFi enabled cameras to give police another resource to watch intersections and traffic hotspots for accidents without physically being on-site.

With more devices like the WiFi-enabled Apple iPhone on the horizon, it is plausible we can expect a fairly bright future for public WiFi systems at some point in the future.

"It's a game changer," Metro-FI CEO Chuck Haas said of the iPhone.  "When you go outside, who wants to use a laptop? But every owner of an iPhone will want to use a Wi-Fi network a lot."

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RE: Cellular network?
By TheBaker on 10/25/2007 4:44:30 PM , Rating: 2
Because trusting the government to ensure everything is running smoothly is exactly what I want in my internet service. Thanks, but I think I'll stick with profit-driven companies.

Comcast/Bellsouth/Time Warner = FedEx/UPS

Tax funded WiFi = USPS

You make the call.

RE: Cellular network?
By GaryJohnson on 10/25/2007 10:58:52 PM , Rating: 2
So maybe the USPS doesn't run as smoothly as FedEx and UPS, isn't it still good that we have the USPS available as an option?

I think the general selling point of municipal WiFi is to make cities more attractive to tech workers and tech companies. Those workers and companies would then generate more revenue for the municipality (paying for the WiFi and then some).

RE: Cellular network?
By zombiexl on 10/26/2007 6:31:31 AM , Rating: 2
Comcast/Bellsouth/Time Warner = FedEx/UPS

Interesting point. Of the last 4 packages i've received through fedex, not one was delivered correctly.

Of the last 4 packages i've gotten via ther USPS, every single one was ontime or sooner than I thought it would get here.

I agree I wouldnt trust the gov to provide reliable service, I also would not want to pay more taxes to provide city-wide wiFi. It's not something I need or care to support.

I'd rather see private companies work together to come up with a fair rate and allow users to use different wifi hotspots (sort of like cell roaming).

RE: Cellular network?
By howtochooseausername on 10/26/2007 9:43:22 PM , Rating: 2
Of the last 4 packages i've gotten via ther USPS, every single one was ontime or sooner than I thought it would get here.

Gotta agree with that one. USPS is the way to go for me. I've been screwed way too many times by FedEx and UPS. Ever try to ship a package through the Canadian border using UPS? Absolute rip-off with UPS and FedEx/DHL.

Although I do think that there can be a commercial Municipal WiFi, the incumbent companies have little incentive to threaten their existing revenue.

"I mean, if you wanna break down someone's door, why don't you start with AT&T, for God sakes? They make your amazing phone unusable as a phone!" -- Jon Stewart on Apple and the iPhone

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